- Item #: i_200240Bottle Size: 750mlVinous Media: 92ANTONIO GALLONI'S VINOUS MEDIA 92 POINTS - "(21% new oak): Pale, brilliant yellow. Displays racy, mineral-accented citrus and orchard fruit scents that show impressive focus and spicy lift. Shows excellent delineation and tension on the palate, offering nervy Meyer lemon, quince and candied ginger flavors that deepen slowly and pick up a hint of smokiness on the back half. Closes dry and impressively long, with repeating minerality and firm, tangy bite."
- Item #: i_203356Bottle Size: 750MLWine Spectator: 90WINE SPECTATOR 90 POINTS - "Vibrant and fresh, with fresh lemon, wet stone and vanilla curd accents that finish on a steely note. Drink now. 1,900 cases made."
At 750 feet in elevation, north-facing and windy, the Chardonnay from Spirit Hill Vineyard provides beautifully focused acidity and tension. The freshness of Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay shines through with lemon and grapefruit wound up with tight malic energy. Neutral oak barrel fermentation and aging builds upon its pronounced structure, bringing subtle creaminess woven into fine, salty mineral length.
- Item #: i_200330Bottle Size: 750mlThe focus of this two person operation is on small lot, single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, as well as several other varieties uncommon in Northern Californian vineyards. Sites are carefully chosen and are generally on the cooler end of the spectrum for the planted varieties. Collaboration with dedicated and passionate growers is paramount in the farming of these sites.
Duncan and Nathan grew up around winemaking in the Napa Valley. Nathan is a second generation cooper and personally builds all of the French oak barrels that are utilized in the ageing of all Arnot-Roberts wines. Over the years Duncan has worked making wine in the Napa Valley in wineries like, Caymus, Groth, Acacia, Kongsgaard. Total production of Arnot-Roberts is around 2,000 cases per year with thirteen individual wines.
The Watson Ranch Chardonnay comes from one of the southernmost vineyards in Napa Valley AVA. The vines were planted in 1990 and dry farmed in clay over limestone with a view of San Pablo Bay. The wine was whole cluster pressed, fermented in stainless steel by native yeasts and aged in neutral French oak barrels.
- "The 2018 Chardonnay Watson Ranch is a gorgeous wine. Apricot, chamomile, dried flowers, sage and dried pear are all laced together in this super-expressive, inviting Chardonnay. Readers should be prepared to cellar the 2018, as it is quite closed today. Bright saline notes add freshness and zip to this super-expressive Chardonnay."
- Item #: i_275937Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93+Jeb Dunnuck: 94 PointsPeople in the wine world always want to talk about the "new kid on the block", but what needs to be remembered is there are a few of the "old guards" that will go toe-to-toe with those "young guns" and give them a run for their money! For decades, Beringer has been making phenomenal, world-class wines utilizing time-honored techniques that are still used today by virtually all the high-quality producers…even by those "young guns"!
Beringer's Private Reserve Chardonnay highlights the richness and complexity of this varietal and has been one of the benchmark Chardonnays since its first vintage in 1978. Just to give you an idea of the quality, let's take a look at the scores from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate for the past few years:
2016 Vintage - 90-92 Points
2015 Vintage - 91 Points
2012 Vintage - 93 Points
2011 Vintage - 95 Points
2010 Vintage - 87 Points
2009 Vintage - 93 Points
2008 Vintage - 94 Points
2007 Vintage - 92 Points
2006 Vintage - 92 Points
These are scores that most producers receive every so often…but not with this consistency. This is one of the reasons why Beringer's Private Reserve Chardonnay is such in demand. And how do they do it? Well, winemaker Laurie Hook ferments the juice in French oak barrels to enhance the natural richness in the wine. Weekly lees stirring enhanced the toasty notes, and integrated the oak flavors for an overall balance. All of the wine was put through malolactic fermentation to encourage a lush creaminess. After 9 months aging, Laurie chose the most expressive lots and blended them to create this richly layered wine.
JEB DUNNUCK 94 POINTS - "A different animal, the 2017 Chardonnay Private Reserve is richer and more opulent, with Montrachet-like caramelized lemon, tropical fruits, and brioche aromas and flavors. Nevertheless, it's still more elegant and vibrant than past vintages, with medium body, a layered texture, and good acidity. I love its balance and it can be drunk any time over the coming 2-4 years, although there's no need to delay gratification."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 93+ POINTS - "The 2017 Chardonnay Private Reserve aged for ten months in 100% new French oak. It opens with beautiful creme brulee and candied ginger notes over a core of pineapple and green mango with a waft of brioche. Medium-bodied, satiny and with fantastic freshness, it delivers loads of tropical layers and great length. 8,100 cases produced, to be released in March 2019."
- Item #: i_207600Bottle Size: 750mlChardonnay grapes grown in the bottom half of the valley tend to produce rich, ripe, elegantly structured wines that are delicious on release, but also age well in the bottle; this gem is no exception! And while 75% is fermented in French oak, only 11% goes through malolactic fermentation in order to produce a full-bodied wine that's food friendly. The nose offers vivid, creamy aromas of green and golden apple, pear and citrus with supporting scents of beeswax and mineral. Full-bodied and vibrant on the palate, with bright, intense, apple, citrus and melon flavors, Cakebread's 2018 Napa Valley Chardonnay is remarkably persistent on the palate, culminating in a long finish showcasing pleasing spice, yeast and mineral tones. Released soon after bottling, it will hit its stride after 6-8 months and reward 5-7 years' aging.
- Item #: i_210160Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 91Wine Spectator: 91ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 91 POINTS - "The 2017 Chardonnay Estate opens with notes of toast, cream, lemon pith and hay over a core of Red Delicious apple and banana chips. The medium-bodied palate is rounded and creamy with toasty spice and honey notions, finishing long and lifted with juicy acidity."
WINE SPECTATOR 91 POINTS - "Intense and well-structured, with flavors of Bosc pear, Fuji apple and ruby grapefruit, supported by firm acidity. Dried savory herb notes linger on the fresh, pure-tasting finish. Drink now through 2023."
- Item #: i_214000Bottle Size: 750mlDehlinger has long been recognized for its Russian River Valley Chardonnays, which are known for their balance, fresh acidity, and unctuous flavor. Today, Dehlinger produces a single Estate Chardonnay bottling each vintage, originating from their eight acres of Chardonnay vines planted between 1975 and 1988. These old vines, grown in the region's classic goldridge series soils, are grafted to the California heritage "Wente" clone, which produces small clusters and berries and has a notable minerality and almost oily viscosity.
Dehlinger's Chardonnays are crafted using traditional techniques which preserve the flavor and elegance of the variety. At harvest, the grapes are picked at night, brought cold into the winery and "whole cluster pressed" to extract the highest quality juice. From there, the juice is fermented in French oak barrels using native yeasts. The wine gains further complexity through malolactic fermentation and a year of aging on the lees. Dehlinger has been bottling its Chardonnays "Unfiltered" since the late 1990s in order to capture the full flavor potential and most pleasing texture possible.
ANTONIO GALLONI 92 POINTS - "Not surprisingly, in 2017 Dehlinger's Chardonnay Estate is quite racy and luscious. Orchard fruit, citrus confit, and wild flowers take on an extra level of sheer richness, while tropical accents add to the real feeling of exoticism."
- Item #: i_215480Bottle Size: 750mlANTONIO GALLONI 90 POINTS - "The 2016 Chardonnay (Santa Barbara County) is a terrific appellation level wine from Ryan Deovlet. Bright and delineated, with plenty of citrus character, the 2016 offers lovely persistence and class, especially at this level. The 2016 is a blend of 55% Sanford & Benedict and 45% Zotovich fruit."
- Item #: i_218880Bottle Size: 750mlElk Cove's Chardonnay is hand picked then gently whole-cluster pressed to avoid bitterness. The juice is fermented in large puncheons and a mix of neutral and new oak barrels. They age in barrel for a full 12 months with some stirring on the lees after malolactic fermentation. This is their classic take on Chardonnay, one of the original varietals they planted in 1974 and grew for over 20 years.
A fruity nose sets the stage with lemon meringue, baked pineapple and wafts of almond cookie and creme brulee. Generous yet streamlined, this wine has a rich, creamy mouthfeel of quince and toasted coconut accented by fresh lemon peel and baking spice.
- Item #: i_220170Bottle Size: 750MLThe dramatic landscape of the Sonoma coast, with its steep hillsides and windswept foothills, gives Flowers a diverse profile of well-draining soils, while direct proximity to the Pacific Ocean results in a long, cool growing season. These extreme coastal conditions allow Flowers to produce a layered Chardonnay with bright fruit focus, complex minerality and crystalline acidity. Flowers' Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is sourced from a small selection of family-owned sites, including their own estate Camp Meeting Ridge Vineyard.
Medium yellow in color, this wine displays aromas of straw, lemon verbena, and honey suckle that mingle with layers of lemon meringue and lychee. Upon entry are flavors of lemon curd, honeydew, and hints of star fruit and wet stone, balanced with a touch of fine grained tannin. The crisp finish is countered with a spicy note of white pepper and lingers with coastal minerality.
- Item #: i_223550Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 91Jeb Dunnuck: 91 PointsJEB DUNNUCK 91 POINTS - "The 2016 Chardonnay FRV Fort Ross Vineyard is a beauty. Clean, classic, and medium-bodied, with good acidity as well as notes of buttered orchard fruits and spice, it has plenty of fruit, good balance, and a classic Chardonnay profile."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 91 POINTS - "The 2016 Chardonnay Fort Ross Vineyard gives up notions of warm applesauce, poached pears and honey toast with a waft of lemon peel. The palate is medium-bodied with appealing freshness and plenty of spicy stone fruit and apple flavors, finishing on a honey-nut note. 508 cases produced."
- Item #: i_223470Bottle Size: 750MLRyo-fu is Japanese for "cool breeze." The cool, foggy breeze that comes off the Pacific Ocean allows the Russian River Valley to grow high quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The area's sandy soil is crucial as well; but without the right temperatures, the fruit could ripen too soon or not at all. Thanks to Freeman's local "ryo-fu", the growing seasons are perfectly timed for their vineyards. The 2015 vintage will go down as the earliest Chardonnay harvest on record at Freeman, and with a little help from that cool breeze, all of the fruit came in perfectly ripe.
A blend of Chardonnay from vineyards such as Keefer, Heintz, and Mill Station, the wine shows medium straw color, with a throwback nose of matchstick, honey, ripe Gravenstein apples, and melon. The palate is tightly wound, combining strong acidity and a dense core of fruit. It will take a few years in bottle to reach its peak, but with enough aeration in the glass, everything comes together to reveal a vibrant, well-balanced Chardonnay. The drinking window should be 2018–2023.
- Item #: i_219890Bottle Size: 750mlPellegrini's Olivet Lane Vineyard was planted in 1975 to Wente selection on AXR roostock. The vineyard sits on 65 acres of sloping benchland in the Santa Rosa Plain, in between the warmer Westside Road region andthe cooler Green Valley, where warm sunny days are moderated by cool breezes and chilly evening temperatures. The combination of low temperature, regular fog intrusion and well-drained loam, clay soils create an excellent environment for growing Chardonnay that develop cool-climate characteristics and impeccable acid at fairly low sugars. The wines from this vineyard simultaneously express power and finess, and they do so with tremendous balance.
This Chardonnay is a pure expression of penetrating acidity moderated by layers of rich, velvety baking spices with crisp apple and citrus notes throughout. The bouquet unravels decadent aromas of shortbread, French vanilla beans and apricot Tarte Tatin, with hints of vibrant lemon zest. The warm and spicy nose paves the way for a more lean and mineral driven palate with exuberant citrus and lemon merengue pie. It slowly opens up to underlying tones of white tea, fresh kumquats and lemongrass. The complex nature of this wine keeps drinkers on their toes, while the impeccable structure is perfect for cellaring for many years to come.
- Item #: i_225560Bottle Size: 750mlOn the nose, bright lemon zest, grapefruit peel, and Mexican lime mix with spice notes of cinnamon and vanilla. The first impression on the palate is zesty citrus. The mid-palate hosts tart green apple, peach, and grilled pineapple. The finish shows notes of pastry cream, chamomile, dried apricot, and golden raisins. This complex Chardonnay also displays hits of a wet stone minerality.
- Item #: i_222500Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 92+The Gran Moraine vineyard was planted in 2005 to several different Dijon clones. Located five miles west of the town of Carlton this site is one of the more westerly vineyards in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA and therefore subject to the cooling afternoon breezes that roll off the Pacific. A variety of slopes, aspects, row direction, and plant material offer a wide diversity of blocks to choose from when blending this Yamhill-Carlton Chardonnay.
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 92+ POINTS - "The 2016 Chardonnay Yamhill-Carlton has a lovely open nose of spiced apples, acacia honey, lemon cream, toast and dried white flowers. Medium-bodied with a great creamy texture, it fills the mouth with layers of honey toast, cream, ripe orchard fruits and spice, with great mouthwatering acidity and a long floral finish. 2,130 cases produced."
- Item #: i_226912Bottle Size: 750mlOur guiding philosophy is quite simple: great wines always begin with exceptional fruit. Committed to natural winegrowing and sustainability, we farm our five estate vineyards without artificial fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. They are all certified organic.
DECANTER 97 POINTS - "Stunningly complex with aromas of smoke, brioche, toast and a little flintiness. This is beautifully balanced with a blend of sweet apple, oyster shell and gentle sweet oak. A classy wine with such potential to develop further."
- Item #: i_236780Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 91Liquid Farm's "White Hill" bottling is the leaner and more Chablisiane of their two Chardonnay bottlings. Comprised of fruit from some of the best vineyards in the area, White Hill highlights the unique salinity that comes through in the ancient soils of Santa Rita Hills. The style of this wine will always be racier and predominately neutral barrel fermentation. Its profile is that of mineral, yellow peach, fresh Asian pear, salinity, linen, candied ginger, and lavender cream.
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 91 POINTS - "There are fully 1,200 cases of the 2016 Chardonnay White Hill, Liquid Farm's largest bottling, which offers up a crisp bouquet of white peach, citrus pith, smoke and faint reduction. On the palate, the wine is bright and medium-bodied, with racy acids and nice tension, but concluding with a somewhat fluid finish that depresses my score a touch."
- Item #: i_237880Bottle Size: 750MLRob Lloyd (who was formerly on the winemaking team at Rombauer) has produced an unabashed California Chardonnay. The grapes come from two Sangiacomo Vineyard sites, Home Ranch and Green Acres in the Carneros region. Picked at their peak of ripeness, the grapes are gently pressed, settled, and moved to barrels to be cold fermented. The room is kept at a very low temperature keeping the wine from fermenting too rapidly and thus losing its aromatics. The wine slowly undergoes primary and secondary fermentation for nime months before being racked off its primary lees and bottled.
- Item #: i_238940Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 92The grapes for this Chardonnay came exclusively from Macrostie's Wildcat Mountain Vineyard, owned by Steve MacRostie and his partners Nancy and Tony Lilly. Here the vines dig into the sparse volcanic soil and stand firm against the strong winds that race in off of the Pacific Ocean most afternoons. This fog-shrouded mountaintop vineyard is a classic Sonoma Coast site, cool and challenging, and produces wines of great distinction.
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - ""The 2016 Wildcat Mountain Vineyard Chardonnay delivers notes of white peaches, ripe Golden Delicious apples and Bosc pears with hints of allspice, shaved almonds and chalk dust. The palate nails it with intense yet elegantly played apple and pear flavors, accented with plenty of toast and spice, and gives a long, refreshing finish. 1,595 cases produced."
- Item #: i_245240Bottle Size: 750MLJeb Dunnuck: 92 PointsThe Double L Vineyard is well situated to produce Chardonnay of the highest caliber. Located near the northern tip of the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, the vineyard receives brisk afternoon breezes from nearby Monterey Bay. North-south vineyard row orientation allows for optimum sun exposure on the Highlands’ east - facing terraces. Wind and sun combine for a long growing season, resulting in vibrant fruit flavors with balanced acidity. The vineyard was certified organic in 2002, although it has been conscientiously farmed in this method since the original plantings in 1997.
ANTONIO GALLONI'S VINOUS MEDIA 92 POINTS - "Limpid yellow. Powerful, mineral-accented Meyer lemon, pear and vanilla scents show very good clarity and complicating suggestions of fennel and toasty lees. Minerally and focused in the mouth, offering pliant citrus and orchard fruit flavors; deeper suggestions of honey and buttered toast emerge on the back half. Shows impressive depth as well as energy and finishes smoky and very long, with a suave floral nuance hanging on."
JEB DUNNUCK 92 POINTS - "Aged 10 months in 15% new French oak, the 2016 Chardonnay Double L is a step up in quality and is a more serious, layered Chardonnay. White peach, white flowers, honeysuckle, and a touch of brioche all emerge from this silky, elegant effort that has racy acidity, terrific balance, and a great finish. Drink it any time over the coming 5-7 years, and I wouldn/t be surprised to see it keep longer."
- Item #: i_248610Bottle Size: 750mlLike the mannequins on the label, many of Orin Swift's Chardonnay vineyards have their own set of unique characteristics - the soil, the rickety old gate, or even the dove hunters in the adjacent field. From the tops of the Stagecoach Vineyard to the cool Sonoma Carneros, Orin Swift lets Chardonnay hang until they turn golden-brown, and after being carefully picked, are barrel fermented in a mix of new and seasoned French oak. No two resulting lots ever smell or taste the same, but when blended together, they create something never seen before - much like the collection of mannequins on the bottle.
Pale gold in the glass, opulent aromatics of Meyer lemon, vanilla creme, and sweet oak are complemented by subtle notes of jasmine, gardenias and caramel. The layered palate is replete with ripe stone fruit, melon, lemon curd and hints of roasted almond, grapefruit pith and white pepper. The finish is long and rich with a tapering young coconut flavor.
- Item #: i_249340Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 92+ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 92+ POINTS - "The 2017 Chardonnay Dutton Ranch aged on the lees in 35% new oak with weekly batonnage. It reluctantly opens to apple pie, toast, apricot, roasted almonds and smoky reduction. It's medium-bodied, silky and more expressive in the mouth with honeyed, savory notions framing the intense fruits, enlivened by juicy acidity and finishing long and textured. This will benefit from another year in bottle."
- Item #: i_249690Bottle Size: 750mlJeb Dunnuck: 95 PointsAnybody who has been in our store asking for California Chardonnay recommendations has surely heard us mention the wines of Peake Ranch. This producer has previously been on our domestic "Top Wine" list in 2018, and judging by the newly released 2017 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay, there's a good chance that they will be on the list this year!
Peake Ranch is a boutique, family-run winery owned by John and Gillian Wagner. Like all of us who have visited Santa Barbara County, the couple fell in love with the beautiful countryside and the friendliness of the people. They purchased Peake Ranch with a vision of building a winery and a house on the property, and producing extraordinary wines. They also bring a humbleness and sense of humility, which is honestly quite refreshing, considering that in only their third vintage, they began to receive rave reviews from the top critics!
Located on the eastern end of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA on Santa Rosa Road, Peake Ranch is a 105-acre parcel with 50 acres of vines. The plantings are all along a hill that exposes the vines to the cool air that comes off the Pacific and into the Santa Ynez Valley. The combination of various facing slopes, coupled with the exposure to varying degrees of the cool wind give the vineyard a diversity of fruit flavor profiles, resulting in more complex wines.
The winemaking team consists of Paul Lato and Wynne Solomon. Paul has nearly two decades of experience, has earned critical acclaim with top critics (as high as 99 points), and has placed his eponymous line of wines in top restaurants in the United States, Europe and Japan! Wynne studied Wine and Viticulture at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, and began making wine with Stephen Ross Winery in the Edna Valley before moving down to the Sta. Rita Hills to continue pursuing cool climate winemaking with Melville Winery. She joined the Peake Ranch team in 2018, worked with Paul Lato in blending the 2017 vintage, and made the 2018 vintage hand in hand with him. Her vision for Peake Ranch is to focus on the unique attributes of this area while emphasizing balance in Californian wines.
This Chardonnay is comprised of the Peak Ranch Estate Vineyard, coupled with Chardonnay from the famed Sierra Madre Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley. Sierra Madre is comprised of sandy, well-drained soil, and the Chardonnay planted here takes advantage of sunny days and cool night to become both fully ripe and at the same time retain a high level of acidity.
JEB DUNNUCK 95 POINTS - "An up and coming estate readers need to check out is John and Gillian Wagner's Peake Ranch. Located on the eastern/southern side of the Sta. Rita Hills, they produce a stunning array of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrahs. Prices haven't caught up with quality, so these are still screaming values."
"A stunning value, the 2017 Chardonnay Santa Barbara County comes from the Sierra Madre and Peake Ranch vineyards and was barrel fermented and aged 18 months in 50% new French oak. It offers a rich, powerful, quintessential California bouquet of orchard fruits, toasted spice, grilled bread, and white flowers. It's a ripe, sexy, yet flawlessly balanced effort that stays balanced, pure, and lengthy. It's a smoking value even at the $40 price point."